Israel and the Michael Impulse

Anthroposophical Quarterly 1.1 (Spring 1956): 2-9

The date when the present rulership of Michael began was placed by Rudolf Steiner at the end of the 1870s – to be precise, in the year 1879. We are now sufficiently removed from that moment in history to be able to perceive that it was about that time, also, that a certain kind of thinking reached its culmination. That was the kind of thinking that followed that great change of mind which has been called “the Scientific Revolution”. It is true that, in many ways, Western civilisation is even more materialistic now than it was in 1879, but the vogue of materialism, as an all-embracing, self-confident world-outlook, has since then on the whole declined.

The coincidence of these two historical landmarks was no accident, and we understand neither the distinguishing feature of Anthroposophy, compared with other traditions of occultism, nor Rudolf Steiner’s teaching of the mission of Michael, if we are unable to see that it was actually the coming of materialism, or at all events of the way of thinking and perceiving that underlies materialism, which made that mission possible.

How then does the human being of the age of materialism differ from the human being of previous ages? Is it simply that he has different theories – materialistic theories – about the world? No. It is more than that. The way in which men think about the outer world determines, in the long run, the way in which they perceive it also. Indeed it very largely determines what they perceive. And the world which men perceive to-day, as the result of the age of materialism, is a world which consists, essentially, of a multitudinous collection of detached objects; of objects detached alike from each other and from man himself. To-day man feels himself to be related to nature only through what, in the East, they call “the contacts of the senses”.

It was not always so. In earlier times it came naturally to human consciousness to see the objects – and often also the events – of the outer world, not as objects only, but as images. The visible world, in particular, was apprehended (not “believed to be”, but apprehended immediately in the moment of perception) as an image, a representation, a copy of the invisible.

We can still hear a faint echo of this in our use of the world phenomenon. When a natural scientist speaks of a phenomenon, he normally means, to-day, simply an object or an event, and he thinks of the object or event as existing entirely in its own right and quite independently of men’s consciousness of it – he thinks of it as “objective”, in fact. (At all events, he did think so at the end of the nineteenth century. Nowadays the physicists, or some of them, think differently; but the other scientists go on thinking the same.) But the meaning of the Greek word phaenomena is, of course – “appearing” or “appearances”; and it was so that they were still, in some measure, experienced throughout the Graeco-Roman ages.

We can best approach the difference, if we conceive that formerly it was really unavoidable, it was the normal thing, to experience the phenomena of nature in a way which we only achieve by a special effort, and with the help of the faculty we call “imagination”. In a moment of vision, and of heightened consciousness, with the help of a poet or a painter, we may perhaps say to ourselves:

“Alles vergängliche ist nur ein Gleichnis”

(All the world that passes away, is only a similitude) but the moment fades; and we find ourselves once more in the old familiar world of inexpressive objects and events. But once upon a time that vision was the normal thing. Visible nature was, without any effort at all, apprehended as representational, as expressive of an underlying invisible soul-spiritual substance; just as to-day the pictures, let us say, on the television screen are experienced in their very nature as representations and not simply as electrical phenomena in which we are interested for their own sakes. People just cannot look at them without being aware that representation is their whole raison d’être.

What does it signify to behold nature in this way – imaginally? It signifies, necessarily, that the consciousness of the beholder has another link with nature besides the link through “the contacts of the senses”. If I apprehended the visible as an image, or copy, of an invisible, soul-spiritual substance, then I feel a relation between that soul-spiritual substance and my own soul and spirit; just as I feel myself related, not only to the visible body, but also to the invisible soul and spirit of another human being. It signifies an extra-sensory link which gives awareness not only of the object perceived but also of the invisible substance whereof that object is an image, or copy, is the “atavistic clairvoyance” of which Rudolf Steiner so often spoke. From another point of view – if we take our standpoint outside both man and nature, and contemplate their changing relation to each other – we can say that the human soul once shared or participated in the soul-life of nature. It is really this which distinguishes the ages of atavistic clairvoyance from our own age of mere sense-perception. The experience of nature as image, or representation, was the last relic of an even fuller participation.

This instinctive, effortless participation was still present vestigially at least, in the experience of ordinary men right down to the close of the Middle Ages. It is indeed impossible really to understand the Middle Ages, their art and their thought, unless we have begun by grasping the fact that medieval man lived in a slightly different world of ours. We experience that difference in the first place as a kind of crudity or quaintness. But this is mere parochialism on our part. The parochial man feels that everything unlike what he finds in his own parish is quaint and laughable; and there is parochialism of time as well as of apace. When we look on a medieval fresco, with its haloes and its absence of perspective, we should rather recall that in those days men still actually experienced nature, not so much as a collection of objects occupying positions in a receding space, but (compared with ourselves) more as a picture or tapestry – a picture of which they themselves were a part.

It came naturally to them to look upon whatever was presented to their senses as an image, rather than as a meaningless object; and it was for this reason that they were so satisfied with simple imagery in the world of art. The sculptor, bidden to represent in stone Elijah’s ascent to heaven in a fiery chariot, was content to put him in a sort of farm-cart. For the chariot could be no more than an image; and a farm-cart itself was (like everything else in the phenomenal world) no less.

I have said that this way of experiencing the world of the senses was a relic of “participation”; and there are plenty of other indications that the men of the Middle Ages were in fact aware of themselves as participating in the soul-life of the earth and of the cosmos, in a way which has become quite foreign to us. Study, for instance, their conception of the four elements, their astrology, their alchemy, their theories of knowledge, and you will soon realise that they did indeed live in “a different world”.

It was this world which has brought to an end by the Scientific Revolution. Yet the elimination of the old, participating consciousness, which was finally accomplished by the Scientific Revolution, had by no means begun with it. Elimination culminated in the Scientific Revolution, but it had begun long before. It had begun when the ancient Greeks first began to think speculatively and analytically about the world. It had begun in the preceding Michael Age, which lasted from about the 6th to the 3rd century B.C.

As soon as we begin to think about something, we become more detached from it. This is the case, for instance, with a strong feeling. As long as we do not start thinking about the feeling, we are one with it – possessed by it. But if we attend to the feeling, if we begin speculating about it, analysing it, we at once begin to be less united with it. It becomes, to some extent, an object outside of use, and our innermost selves are set over against it as subject. We may sometimes even wrestle with a feeling in precisely this way. We strive then, by thinking about the feeling, to free ourselves from its dominion. And if we are in some degree successful, then, although we still have the feeling, we are also aware of a part of our self, which is free from it – and may ultimately gain control of it.

It was something the same when man first began to think about nature. Hitherto he had been wholly possessed by her; his thoughts and impulses had been, so to speak, her dreams. But as the habit of thinking about nature gained strength, man ceased progressively to be aware of himself as part of the cosmic life, of the Cosmic Intelligence which creates and informs nature, and became aware, instead, of his critical intelligence operating on objects distinct from him. And this critical intelligence he could feel to be truly his own, his “Intellectual Soul”.

According to Rudolf Steiner, this gradual emergence of man from the old participation in nature, or in the Cosmic Intelligence which is the spirit of nature, has been the deep concern of Michael. Indeed one way of presenting the history of the Michael impulse – we might call it the Graeco-European way – is to trace the final coming into being of the Intellectual Soul in the Middle Ages, as it is reflected, for instance, in Christian and Arabian scholastic philosophy. We can watch Aristotle’s two great cosmic principles – the Nous Poieticus and Nous Patheticus – changing into the Intellectus Agens and Intellectus Possibilis of scholastic philosophy and in doing so, we can grasp something of the nature and magnitude of Michael’s hope. For it is Michael’s hope that the Cosmic Intelligence shall gradually become embodied in the human personal intelligence – giving man an intellectual soul at once detached and not detached from its cosmic origin.

If this process of embodiment had taken place too smoothly, and with no break, it could not have ended by leaving man a completely free being. He had first – before the Cosmic Intelligence could become embodied in his intellectual soul – to lose all awareness of any concrete link at all with the Cosmic Intelligence. This was finally and conclusively effected by the Scientific Revolution. At the close of the Scientific Revolution men had certainly become more aware of themselves as free critical intelligences than they had ever been before. But the price of this freedom was the loss of all connection with, all realisation of, even all belief in a Cosmic Intelligence. Man looked within him and, instead of the Cosmic Intelligence, reborn there as his personal intelligence, he found – emptiness.


Now we have seen that it is easy and natural for the participating consciousness, that is, for the consciousness which experiences nature as imagery, also to make artificial images. And so, at the end of the Third Post-Atlantean epoch, before the emergence of Greek philosophy and before the beginning of the Michael Age which preceded our own, the prevailing civilisation was an image-making one. Throughout Babylonia and Egypt the daily life of man was directed from religious centres, and the religion which they cultivated centred much round man-made images.

Then, several centuries before the end of that epoch – to be exact, during the reign of Rameses II., in the 18th century B.C. – a very surprising thing happened. In the very heart of the ancient Egyptian civilisation a man was born through whom the command went forth to his own particular nation to give up altogether this making of images. It is important to realise that, in the Second Commandment declared by Moses, the Jews were forbidden, not only to worship images, but also to make them. Indeed, the prohibition to make comes first, and is only followed, in a separate verse of the Bible, by the prohibition to worship. Moreover, they were not only forbidden to make worship images; they were enjoined to destroy them.

Thou shalt utterly overthrow them, and quite break down their images…
Ye shall destroy their images, break their altars and cut down their groves.

Looking at the history of the Jews in the light of the history which preceded and followed the events recorded and followed the events recorded in the Old Testament, it is true to say that one of the impulses which they brought into humanity was the impulse to destroy imag-ination, and in doing so to eliminate the old participation of man in nature. The Jews felt this old participating consciousness, which centred round the pagan cults and was focussed in their images, as a kind of incontinence. They called it idolatry, and the images themselves, idols; and often enough the idolatry of the Gentiles was in fact closely associated with incontinence in the narrow sense.

Rudolf Steiner, in his lectures on St. Mark’s Gospel, has drawn attention to the moment of crisis which occurred when even Moses had somehow lost control. He had lost the power to stay the sudden relapse of the Children of Israel into idolatry. It was at this moment that Phinehas – who, as the previous incarnation of Elijah, in a sense embodied the ego of the entire Jewish nation – stopped the rot by seizing a spear and transfixing one of his compatriots in the arms of a Midianitish woman.

In the end, as we know, the Jewish effort to cast out idolatry succeeded. And this involves casting out the old participation. Read the beautiful hymn to nature contained in the 104th Psalm and contrast it with a Greek chorus or Plato’s Timaeus. In the latter, nature is the garment or the body of the gods, the gods are immanent in nature. In the former, nature does indeed exist to declare the glory of God and to fulfil his law; but there is no suggestion that God is, in any sense, in nature.

Greek poetry and the philosophy of Plato still preserved the old participating consciousness of the East. It was only very gradually, in the course of centuries, that the analytical element in the Greek way of thought operated to exclude participation. Then this age-long process was hastened rudely to its inevitable conclusion by the Scientific Revolution. And, as we have seen, the destruction of imagination which it involved was here brought about, as it were, incidentally by the very nature of logical thought. But meanwhile the Jews had produced the same result purposely; with them the destruction of imagination had been an act of will.

When men eliminate from their consciousness all awareness of the human soul’s participation in the soul and spirit of nature, they eliminate the divine from their perceptions. They extricate themselves from the bosom of the divine Logos which works creatively in nature. We may say that they wrestle themselves free. In the case of the Aristotelan-Christian stream this wrestling was a more or less instinctive process, incidental to intellectual development, whereas for the Jews it had involved something much more like an actual wrestling – an actual violence. For it had taken the form of their long, long struggle with idolatry.

I think this wrestling is prophetically foreshadowed in the account of Jacob’s contest with the angel. If we read the story in Genesis xxxii, we notice, first of all, that the angel came to Jacob by night, that is, at the time when man’s participation in his divine origin has always been at its maximum – and is even to-day maintained. At last the angel bids Jacob, “Let me go, for the day breaketh,” And Jacob replies: “I will not let thee go except thou bless me.” But before they part, there is a discussion about names. The angel asks Jacob what his name is, and is told: Jacob. Thereupon he tells Jacob that henceforth Jacob’s name is to be Israel; and this is the first appearance of the name Israel in the Bible. Now the name Israel means “wrestler with God” (a strange patronymic, we may well think, for His chosen race!). It was therefore not merely an angel, with whom Jacob wrestled, but a representative of the Divine principle itself, of the Divine out of whom Jacob and all men had originated.

Then Jacob asks the angel for his name; and the answer is significant. The angel replies: “Wherefore is it that thou dost ask after my name?” And, instead of disclosing his name to Jacob, the angel goes on to fulfil the condition which Jacob had stipulated for letting him go. The next sentence in the text is: “And he blessed him there.”

In asking the name of the angel with whom he wrestled, Israel had really been asking for the name of God. He was not vouchsafed the name, but he was given the ‘blessing’ he had asked for. I find it hard not to associate this blessing with that through which the Children of Israel were ultimately to receive the Divine Name itself. I mean the Hebrew language. It is the peculiar quality of the Hebrew language that it contains the spirit in the sound and shape of its words. “The Hebrew tongue,” said Rudolf Steiner in the first lecture of the Course, Biblical Secrets of the Creation,

or better said the language of the first chapters of the Bible, was a medium by means of which imaginative ideas were called forth in the soul, approximating to the vision which the seer has when he is able, freed from the body, to look into the supersensible realms of existence.

And again, in the same lecture: “… at one time when one letter of it sounded in the soul, a picture was awakened within…” And there is more, in the second lecture, to the same purpose.

There is, then, in the Hebrew language a quality of imagination; but of an imagination not depended on phenomenal imagery – a kind of supersensible imagination.

Other languages also have a quality of imagination in them, but it reaches us much more through the meanings of their words. For if we consider the meanings of words, as apart from their sounds, there too we shall find a wealth of imagery embedded in language – but it is all imagery in terms of the phenomenal world. (This is elemental Aryan etymology.) Thus, the meanings of words can only continue to contain the spirit, for man, so long as man himself retains his participating, imaginal consciousness of the phenomenal world. But it was just this imaginal consciousness which the Children of Israel, as we have seen, were called upon to renounce. And it was their ‘blessing’ that they were permitted to retain in the sounds and shapes of their language the participation which they had to eliminate from their experience of nature.

The more one studies the history of Jewish religious thought, both before and after the Mystery of Golgotha, the more one comes to feel that this spiritual quality, this non-representational but creatively imaginative spirituality of the Hebrew language, is in a manner summed up, concentrated, focussed in the Name of God, the Divine Name, or – as their learned men frequently called it simply – the Name (ha Shem).

The angel of God would not, as yet, reveal this to Jacob. But at a later stage Moses himself revealed it to Israel, the nation, when Israel had advanced farther in the task of wrestling itself free from the old pagan, clairvoyant participation in the Divine soul and sprit behind the phenomena of nature. We read in Exodus iii, how Moses asked what name he was to use in speaking of God to the Children of Israel, and how he was told: “Thou shalt say unto the Children of Israel, I AM hath sent me unto you.”

The Hebrew verb “I am” is in fact a very slight variant of the usual form of the Name itself – incorrectly written Jehovah or Jahve. The actual Name – the so-called Tetragrammaton – consists (as written) of four consonants, to which the nearest English equivalent would be Y-H-W-H. Written – in common with all other words – in the sacred text, without vowels, it lies there on the page like a breath, like a whisper, like a holy breath whispering up out of itself the central mystery of Being.

The history of the Tetragrammaton is a subject in itself. In Old Testament times, and for long afterwards, it was shrouded in mystery, holiness and silence. When the scriptures were read aloud, other names of God, such as Adonai or Elohim were substituted for it by the reader. Or if it had to be spoken, the vowels from these names were inserted between its consonants instead of its own vowels. The Name itself was uttered only by the priests in the Temple when blessing the people, later only by the High Priest on the Day of Atonement. In Christian times the Cabbalists enquired whether it was really a name at all – as other nouns are – that is, by representation, or whether it was the Divine substance itself. Those who held that it differed in this way from all other nouns and names, called it Shem HammephorasNomen separatum – the “Name Apart”. Christians discussed whether it was the name of the Father only – or of the Trinity. And the more irresponsibly occult investigated its uses for the purpose of magic.

Meanwhile the Gentiles were building up their own, Platonic and Neo-Platonic philosophy of names; a philosophy which was to blossom and fruit in Dionysus the Areopagite, in Scotus Erigena, in Albertus, Aquinas and others; a philosophy which disappeared altogether with the Scientific Revolution. We have seen that, down to the close of the Middle Ages, the objects or phenomena of nature were still experienced as images – representations of something other than themselves. By the same token the distinction between the word, or name, and the thing, was much less sharply felt. For, after all, both were representations – images (hence the extreme preoccupation of the Middle Ages with words – “mere” words, as they are today). The visible world was the body or garment of the invisible; and another way of putting this was to say that their names were also names of God. This can be studied in, for example, Dionysus’s noble treatise on The Divine Names.

We have seen that the Jews were not interested in names; not in this way, as representations. For the News denied that nature was in any sense a representation of the Divine. They almost existed for the purpose of that denial. They were interested in one Name only, precisely because it was not a name, as other names are. Because it was not a representation. It was rather that which produces the representations – that which does the naming. And did they but know it – or had they not forgotten it – this Name that was more than a name, this Name apart, for ever whispering from the depths, “I AM”, spoke, and could be virtue of its very meaning only speak, from within them.


Let us now revert to the present moment – nearly eighty years after the beginning of this present Michael epoch. We are feeling to the full the effect of the Scientific Revolution, inasmuch as we experience nature, as a system of multitudinous objects and events, independent of, and wholly detached from us and from each other. It is a system in which we have no participation, except through the contacts of the senses. This is the effect of the Scientific Revolution. It is however not what science now teaches. At least it is certainly not what physics teaches. The science of physics teaches (rightly or wrongly, but the teaching is accepted) that there is a world of nature entirely independent of man – but that this is not the familiar world which man perceives. It is an entirely unfamiliar, normally unperceivable world consisting exclusively of waves or particles, or something else not yet clearly envisaged. This is the only reality independent of man. The inescapable inference is, that the familiar world – things like Hampstead Heath and apple-dumplings – depends for its existence on our perceiving senses and minds. We hear a good deal about a ‘collective unconscious’; but no-one seems to have realised that the culmination of materialism simply forces the conclusion that the familiar world we all agree that we see and hear around us is – apart from its foundation in the mysterious ‘particles’ – a ‘collective conscious’. In other words, that we do still participate in the very structure of the world of nature; but we have lost the old awareness of our participation.

Yet, if this conclusion is ever acknowledged, it is instantly forgotten again. The other sciences, for instance, ignore it. They go on dealing with the familiar world as though it were independent of our consciousness as the ‘particles’ – and only the particles – are in fact presumed to be. If they really took the findings of physics seriously, they would have to say: “That which creates all that is familiar and recognisable in the visible universe creates it through the eyes of man; that which creates all that is familiar and recognisable in the audible universe creates it through the ears of man.” And if they said this, then, when they looked within man, they would divine behind the mystery of his consciousness the infinite riches of the spiritual world which also created the universe. Instead, they forget. There is a time-lag between the progress of science and the habit of materialism which the Scientific Revolution in its earlier stages engendered. They go on treating nature as though it existed independently of man and without his participation. And so, when they look within man himself, they find, instead of riches – emptiness.

This forgetfulness of the creator spirit that underlies man’s consciousness, and the inner emptiness which results from it, are parallel in many ways with the state of affairs which had come about in Israel by the time of the birth of Christ. The Divine Name, which was to speak the I AM from within, was then no longer being uttered by man. The Pharisees had removed it to the status of a detached Power ruling over man from without. And in the inner emptiness which resulted – the desert, or ‘wilderness’, as it is called in the New Testament – that human spirit which had one lived on earth and then again as Elijah, arose once more in Israel in the body of John the Baptist, to prepare the way and bear witness to the Christ. And Christ, when He came, strove to refill the emptiness by awakening in men the realisation that the Divine Father, by whom all things were made, spoke now from within them. When the Representative of Humanity proclaimed, “The Kingdom of God is within you”, when he spoke of “The Father in me and I in you”, he was exemplifying and making plain the truth already foreshadowed by Moses beneath Mount Sinai. The Aramaic tongue which Jesus spoke is very close to Hebrew, and to those who encountered him on earth and heard the great “I am” sayings which are recorded in St John’s Gospel, it must indeed have seemed that the Divine Name was at last openly uttering itself forth from the lips of humanity.

He came to fill the emptiness within. And if we ask how we, too, with His Help are to fill the inner emptiness which afflicts mankind to-day, that is tantamount to asking how we are to let the Divine Name speak from within us, speak in our thinking, speak in our perceiving, and speak in our willing.

The old emptiness was the wilderness wherein the voice of John the Baptist was heard crying: Prepare ye the way of the Lord! It made possible, through the coming of Christ, a new, more fully realised indwelling in man’s inmost being of the Father-Spirit present in all creation. In the same way our modern emptiness can only be filled by the indwelling of Christ, and through Him, of the Father, in our thinking, perceiving and willing.

We may recall how, between Jacob and the angel with whom he wrestled, the question of names arose. The angel did not tell Jacob his name; and it was suggested here that there may have been a link between that name and the Divine Name itself. Later, in Exodus xxiii., 20 and 21, we are told of another angel; or it could, for all we know, be the same one. And here the link is definite.

Behold I send an Angel before thee, to keep thee in thy way and to bring thee into the place which I have prepared.
Beware of him, and obey his voice: for he will not pardon your transgression: for my name is in him.

For my name is in him – much has been written about this mysterious “angel in whom God’s name resides”. He has been called by commentators “the lesser Y-H-W-H”; and his name according to tradition is “Metatron”. In his book, The History of Jewish Mysticism, the late Ernest Müller, the Jewish anthroposophist who died not long ago, tells of scholars who have identified Metatron with the Archangel Michael.

In the 35th and 54th of Rudolf Steiner’s leading Thoughts, he speaks of human consciousness descending on the ladder of unfolding thought, of will coming to life in like manner as the sprit, soul and life in human Thought recedes, and of “the gulf of Non-being in relation to the Cosmos”, across which man is called upon to leap, “through Michael’s activity and the Christ Impulse”. If we think of Michael as the angel in whom God’s name resides; and if we recall that God’s name is the Divine Name, the I AM, which seeks to whisper its way up and out from beneath the deepest depths of our inmost Being, then we shall be in no danger of forgetting what distinguishes Anthroposophy from so many other occult traditions, or of misunderstanding the mission of Michael.

What are those “transgressions” which the particular Angel, “in whom God’s name resides”, will not pardon? It might perhaps be maintained that there is room in Anthroposophy as a whole for a different approach, but (if I have understood Rudolf Steiner rightly) the Being whom he names Michael is not interested in any kind of pantheism; in any pagan veneration of, or participation in, nature; in any incontinent going forth into nature; in any direct astral or etheric participation in a nature, whose life and being are conceived as existing independently of man; in any participation of which the Ego is not total master.

The participation which Michael wills for man, is an ultimate participation in the phenomena of nature as, and because, the Ego itself participates the Divine Hierarchies who are the substance of nature. We have seen that the subjective aspect of the old pagan participation was an “atavistic” or instinctive clairvoyance. There is also a subjective aspect of the ultimate participation to which Michael beckons us. And this is the higher knowledge, which begins with Initiation. It is indeed principally this subjective aspect of which we hear but Rudolf Steiner also not infrequently emphasised that Initiation – for example, the initiation of Johannes Thomasius in his Mystery Plays – is not simply an epistemological event. It is not a cosmic event. For higher knowledge is not only knowledge. It is participation; it is becoming one with the things known; and it is therefore important for the “things known” as well as for the knower.

Steiner also declares that it was always the mission of the Jews to prepare the Ego, and in particular to prepare it against the coming of our own, non-clairvoyant, age. They had begun preparing it already, far back in the time before man was capable of perceiving any ‘outer’ world at all. Therefore it is, that we feel the breath of the Divine Logos, not so much in the meanings of the words in their language (for meanings come to us via perceptions of the outer world), but rather in the shape and sound of them.

Conversely, it was just through this increasingly non-clairvoyant perceiving of multitudinous, detached objects in an outer world that the Aryan nations found the Ego. Instead of this, the Jews had their language – and the Divine Name. They brought to the development of Ego-consciousness, not only, as Rudolf Steiner has pointed out, “all that could be given to the natural being of man through the organisation of the blood”, but also the ‘blessing’, the mystery of their Hebrew speech and of the Divine Name in which it seems to centre – the persistent inkling that, behind and beyond the physical unifying influence of the blood, there stands that other mysterious Hierarchical Unity, which Rudolf Steiner also speaks of in Biblical Secrets of the Creation. For there he tell us that the Elohim themselves first achieved a new unity in the act of creating man. It is, in fact, only after the first creation of etheric, bi-sexual man that the Tetragrammaton appears in the Book of Genesis, and the Elohim are for the first time referred to as Yhwh-Elohim. It is in this direction that, with the deepest reverence and awe, we must look for the true Ego of every man.

Ha Shem! The Name! Shem – or Sem – it is the same root that we find in the name given to the Semitic race. We call them the Semites; but we could equally well call them the ‘Name-ites’. Now just as Shem (name) was the symbolical ancestor of the Semitic race, so another of Noah’s three sons, Japeth, was the symbolical ancestor of the Aryan nations. (Iapetos is the ‘Noah’ of Greek mythology, who survived the great flood, which ushered in the Post-Atlantean or Aryan epoch). In the ixth Chapter of Genesis it is recorded that Noah uttered the following prophecy concerning these two sons:

Blessed be YHWH, the God of Shem…
God enlarge Japeth,
And he shall dwell in the tents of Shem.

Many meanings have been attached to this prophecy, and there is one obvious historical sense, in which it has already been fulfilled. But the depth of inspiration from which such archetypal pictures are drawn is such that they often have different meanings at different levels of reality. I feel this prophecy has another and a deeper significance than the destruction of the Temple or the occupation of Jerusalem.

Just as the names Israel and Shem (in common with many other Hebrew names) have meanings, so has the name Japeth. It is in fact the same word as the verb “enlarge” which occurs immediately before it, and which can also mean: “to cause to be multiplied or divided”. When we read of God causing Japeth (that is, the whole Aryan stream) to be multiplied and divided, and of Japeth “dwelling in the tents of Shem” – the people of the name – I think we are justified in looking ahead to a time which still lies far in the future; to a time when the extended multiplicity of nature, created by the Divine Logos and further multiplied and divided into an infinity of detached “objects” by Aryan thinking, and by the type of perceptions which that begets, will be gathered into the unity of the Divine Name, uttering itself forth from the depths beneath the depths within man’s own soul. We may look forward, whither Michael beckons, to a time which will bring with it, not just a restoration of the soul and spirit in nature but a veritable rebirth thereof out of the place wherein they have been entombed.

Perhaps it is at no shallower level that we must seek, if we would find healing for that old sore, the ancient antagonism between Jew and Gentile which, for centuries past and in our own time most of all, has brought such untold miseries, such unspeakable agonies to this our Aryan age.

Owen Barfield
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